Ricotta VS Cream Cheese – 3 Differences How To Use Them

Ricotta cheese is an Italian cheese that has been made since ancient times. It is made from the whey leftover after making mozzarella cheese. Ricotta is often used in lasagna, ravioli, and other dishes.

Ricotta cheese comes in different varieties such as whole milk, partly skimmed milk, low fat, nonfat, and even Greek style. The type of cheese you choose depends on the recipe you want to use it in.

Cream cheese is a soft, spreadable cheese that has a mild flavor. It is usually made from cow’s milk and contains a high amount of fat. Cream cheese is often used as an ingredient in other foods such as dips, desserts, and spreads. Cream cheese is also known as cottage cheese because it was originally produced in small batches in a dairy called a "cottage." The name "cottage" comes from the fact that the cheese was traditionally stored in a wooden box called a "cottage cheese box," which resembled a small house.

Ricotta and cream cheese are two of the most widely available soft white cheeses. This means you’ll probably find both of them if you’re in a rush, but the components could make you wonder if they’re the same. You might question whether you can substitute one for the other depending on what you’re preparing.

So, let’s look at ricotta vs cream cheese, as well as a few related questions. Which one works better with lasagna and cheesecake, for example. Let’s take a closer look.

Ricotta vs cream cheese

When it comes to making delicious baked goods, there are two types of ingredients that you should always keep in mind: fats and sugars.

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Ricotta VS Cream Cheese - 3 Differences & How To Use Them - Foodiosity

While both are essential for baking, there are differences between the two. Fats give baked goods their structure while sugars add flavor and moisture.

But which type of fat is better for baking? And which type of sugar is better for baking? Let’s find out.

What is ricotta?

The word “ricotta” literally translates into “recooked curds.” In order to produce this cheese, firstly, fresh or pasteurized milk must be heated until all the water evaporates.

How to Make Ricotta Cheese at home from scratch

Then, rennet is added to coagulate the remaining liquid. Afterward, salt is added to help preserve the cheese. Finally, the mixture is left to rest overnight so that the protein molecules separate from each other.

Whey left over from the manufacturing of other cheeses is typically used to make ricotta. The word "recooked" refers to the fact that the whey is heated after the milk has previously been heated. The remaining proteins bind together, resulting in very small, low-fat cheese curds. They’re then either strained (not pressed) and served immediately away, or aged for several months.

Ricotta may be made with any type of animal’s milk, not just cow’s milk. Because American ricotta is made completely of whole milk, it has a higher fat content (at least 11%) than regular ricotta. This article will focus on American ricotta. We mention that the ricotta is traditional wherever feasible.

What is cream cheese ?

In contrast to ricotta, cream cheese is a cultured product. That means that bacteria have been introduced to the milk before heating. As a result, the process takes longer and requires special equipment.

How to Make Cream Cheese Recipe - Gemma's Bigger Bolder Baking

Raw milk is first infected with lactic acid bacteria. Then, to destroy dangerous bacteria, heat is used. Following that, the temperature is raised once again to promote the growth of healthy lactobacilli. Because cream cheese is made with full milk and cream, it has a higher fat content (at least 33 percent ). A thickening agent, such as carob bean gum or carrageenan, is commonly used in this soft, spreadable cheese. Let’s look at how ricotta and cream cheese compare and contrast.

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Ricotta has a high moisture content

Because ricotta contains less fat than cream cheese, its texture tends to be drier. It also doesn’t contain much air because the small amount of fat helps prevent separation. Ricotta is often used in savory dishes like pasta sauces, soups, salads, and even desserts.

With a maximum moisture percentage of 55 percent, cream cheese has a lower moisture level than other cheeses. This, along with the higher fat content, produces a denser, thicker cheese. Cream cheese is an excellent choice for something that requires the cheese not to sweat because it has less moisture.

Cream cheese has got higher milk fat content

As mentioned above, cream cheese typically contains at least 30% milkfat. However, some varieties can reach up to 50%, while others are closer to 20%. Higher levels of milkfat make cream cheese softer and smoother when melted.

This makes it ideal for spreading on bread, bagels, crackers, biscuits, pancakes, waffles, muffins, scones, cakes, pies, pastries, cookies, etc.

Cream cheese has a greater total fat content than ricotta, especially American ricotta because it is prepared with cream and whole milk. Cream cheese has a minimum fat percentage of 33 percent, whereas American ricotta has a minimum fat content of 11 percent. Traditional ricotta has a reduced fat level, although it does not fall below 6%.

So, if you’re preparing anything with a high-fat level, pick wisely. In a cheesecake, for example, both kinds of cheese will function, but the fat will provide the majority of the taste. If you’re using ricotta, you may need to add additional cream to the mix.

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Ricotta is grainy

The difference between ricotta and cream cheese lies mainly in their textures. The former is usually made by draining whey from curdled milk. Whey is rich in protein, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. These components help give ricotta its characteristic flavor and aroma.

Whey proteins contribute to the firmness of the ricotta. They also act as emulsifiers, helping keep the mixture smooth. When cooked, ricotta becomes creamy and melts easily into foods. Ricotta is gritty because it is whipped throughout the manufacturing process. Traditional ricotta cannot create large, thick cheese curds because the whey has very few proteins and very little fat.

Due to its thickening ingredients, cream cheese is thicker and softer than ricotta, making it simpler to spread.

Is ricotta or cream cheese better for lasagna?

Lasagna is one dish where there really isn’t an "ideal" type of cheese. Both types work well together.

You’ll find recipes calling for either kind depending upon your preference. Some people prefer ricotta because they think it tastes more authentic. Others enjoy the richness of cream cheese. Either way, these two kinds of cheese complement each other perfectly.


In conclusion, I would say that ricotta is best used in dishes like ravioli, gnocchi, tortellini, and lasagne. It’s great paired with tomato sauce, vegetables, herbs, spices, and pasta. You could even use it as part of a pizza topping.

On the other hand, cream cheese works well in baked goods such as brownies, cupcakes, cake pops, macaroons, meringues, pie crusts, and puddings.

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